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John Kruse-Kanyuck

Great Grandfathers Katana

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Howdy! I've got a head scratcher, and thought I'd bring it to you fine forum folk. I was the lucky recipient of an older looking katana, with a roughly visible Hamon underneath the corrosion. I was able to find three marks, but one would need some sanding to uncover it, and I'm a bit scared. Any knowledge is helpful! I'm also wondering if it may be worth it to send it to a professional polisher.

 

 

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DO NOT SAND THAT NAKOGO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

OK, that's out of the way. A few more pics would help. Please do not sand/scrape/file/clean in any way, the area of that signature. That can RUIN the value of any old Japanese sword.

Put a bit of baby powder in the cuts, and wipe off the other, then take a good pic.

Pics of the whole blade, and whole tang/nakago.

Sorry for yelling. But cleaning of an old swords nakago is a big no no!!

 

Mark

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It has two mekugi ana (holes) which means it was probably adapted to fit a war time tsuka. Thus, there is a good chance it was not made for the war so it has the potential to be a fine blade. Like Mark said don't touch it with anything more abrasive than baby powder until you determine the quality of the blade.

 

The Souke or headmaster of my iai school mentioned there are more old katana outside of Japan than inside because of the war. We should take that as a responsibility to protect this cultural property. You are doing the right thing by asking questions before doing anything!

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Okay! No abrasives, triple noted! I will take more pictures tomorrow when I have the light to do so. This other I took quickly will have to last till then ;-)

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I think it is signed Iyetsugu(Iye Tsugu), which is the name of the smith.

In Hawley's reference book, there are at least 50-60 Iyetsugu's dating from the 1200's to the late 1800's and coming from various schools and provinces.

The two character signature would suggest earlier as it became more customary later on to sign with longer titles and sometimes a date on the other side but that is not a definite rule.

The overall shape and patina on the tang suggest later Koto, maybe 1500-1600's, but that is just my rough opinion based on the pictures and no measurements.

 

In it's current condition it will be difficult to make any conclusive assessment of it.

As already said, make no attempts to clean it, just keep the blade lightly oiled and tang dry and start researching sword shows in the states where you can take it for several informed and in hand opinions.

Full restoration, if that is an intention, of the sword is possible but it is not cheap so best to have some advice on whether or not it is worth it.

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Can you lay a piece of paper over the tang and do a charcoal rubbing? Might make all the markings more clear.

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Mike, I will make a rub image later tonight! For now, here are the pictures I took. I think what intrigues me the most is the hinting of a Hamon, and the fact that it's bevel carries on right to the base of the tang. There are a few wedge shaped chinks along the spine, about two-thirds towards the point from its shoulders.

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Just looking, I would say you have and old Japanese sword.

Oil that puppy up, big time!! With whatever you have, if you don't have some nice natural oils. Sewing machine, and just light gun oil. But you need to waste no time checking that rust.

Like lee says, I do think it is signed Iyetsugu. There were a ton of them!!!
The sword has a very nice shape, and sori. (curve) and I couldn't see any obvious big flaws. Very nice get.

You should post that over on the NMB. Lots of full time guys over there.

If this was a war trophy of your G..Granddads', then it may be worth a full restoration. That is a very expensive undertaking.

The tsuba looks to be cast iron trash. I'm fair sure it wasn't part of the original mounts.

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The charcoal rub alone was enough to remove patina from the tang onto the back of the paper I used, however the markings are very shallow and did not show well on the rub. I tried to use thinner paper to no avail.

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John

 

I am not to far from you and I would like to look at the blade as I have been spending a lot of time studying Nihonto as I further my training into Japanese Style Bladesmithing.

 

The blade has a Tachi look to it, the Sori is lower on the blade close to the Ha-Machi, yet it has a robust look to it close to the Bizen Tradition. What does the Hamon look like is it a Sugha hamon?

 

Seeing it in person would be good plus I know a Professional Japanese sword Appraiser Joe Forcine out of Florida he could most likely be able to tell you how old and what smith made the blade and possibly when it was made.

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John, Here is the correct facing for the signature on your sword.

As Lee said, it looks to be Iyetsugu. There were MANY smiths in old Japan with this name. Many from Bizen, and Bitchu.
Just looking at your pics. It may be one of those smiths. If we could see some of the attributes of the sword we could likely say more.

Anyway, nice old sword. A wonderful get. Keep it oiled!

Mark

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Ok so a few things that I picked up on was the Ha-Machi it seemed a little worn out, but infact it is not wore out, well maybe a little but the Smith who forged that blade liked that style. if you follow the link you will see that if in fact the smith who forged that blade could have forged the one in this thread as there is a lot of similarities and not so many similarities.

 

The Kissaki is worn down maybe even repolished at some point, it shoudl be O-Kissaki as that smith liked a nice pint which would again lean toward the Bizen Tradition, now the blade in this thread could very well have had an O-Kissaki,

 

The second thing that stands out to me is the nakago and how it ends the blade in this thread is rounded the one in the website is cut clean no rounding. Now do not get me wrong this blade could have been forged by a student who had the right to use his name. Different strokes for different folks. Plus the file marks are hard to see, most smiths stuck to one style.

 

The third thing which no one can see right now is the hamon, I would be willing to bet it is a Hitatsura hamon of some sort with a mix of Suguha midare in it.

 

The forth would be the Hada which this smith tended to use Itame. I would be very excited to have this blade and I would seriously think about restoration of it.

 

http://yakiba.com/Kat_IyeTsugu.htm

Edited by John Smith

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Mark, thanks for fixing the photograph of the signature for me, my phone uploads things strangely and I have not finished rebuilding my computer yet.

 

John, you're welcome any time. I'd love to be able to have someone more knowledgeable than myself get a close look at this very intriguing piece. I'd be interested in getting it appraised before having it restored, as from what I understand there are VERY few polishers who would undertake this project.

 

thank you everyone for your help and tips, it means so much to my family and I.

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The nakago from the Yakiba site has been cut down. That is why it is squared off.
John's sword looks to be whole "Ubu". The signature, is also very much different.

The Yakiba site sword is very pretty!! But from IMHO a different school. John's sword looks much more 'Bizen' to me.

If it were mine John, I would get on a list of a good polisher, and save up to have this sword restored, (if it is still alive). It should be a treasured Family heirloom.

By "alive," I'm talking about the sword not having any fatal flaws, that can not be seen in this state of polish. A good polisher, will look over that sword closely, to see if it is worth polishing. They would let you know if it wasn't. There are a few Pros here in the states that could likely handle that, or if you have the time and money, Japan is always the best option.
Being signed, and whole, if this sword is alive, it could likely paper pretty easy. Another reason to send it to Japan, or there are shinsa here in the US at least once a year these days.
There are some wonderful guys that can handle all that for you, for not a lot of money.

Mark

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Thanks again, Mark. I am somewhat on it's a different school as well, (please forgive me not knowing the proper terms yet) as the tang is rounded at the base, and the tip does not have the clean line from the primary lengths bevel to the point's bevel.

 

the biggest flaw I see is the tip is a bit worn, but that isn't fatal in my eyes, though again, I am not as educated on the matter as I'd like to be.

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I am looking into restoring/refurbishment and have come across two different term. One is Non-inspection, the other is Inspection, the difference between them being around ¥100,000.

 

Is anyone knowledgeable to what these mean, thank you in advance for any help!

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John

 

I can put you onto a professional Japanese sword appraiser his name is Joe Forcine he is out of Florida I will get his contact info and PM it to you. You can tell him I sent you.

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Any updates on this one???

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I'm still waiting to hear back from the fellow that Mr. Smith pointed me to. Hopefully soon!

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The man confirms that it is signed Iyetsugu, Of Bizen, and thinks the shape lends it more towards the 1500's.

Edited by John Kruse-Kanyuck

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Nice shape, try consulting with Bob Benson in Hawaii, he has many years of experience and was the first japanese trained American polisher.

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I'll be the voice of greed and ego here, I would hope that this might make an appearance at Fire & Brimstone next month, if you've not sent it off by then. Even in its current state, I think there will be several of us who would appreciate seeing it in person, to get a sense of its feel in the hand, if you're gracious enough. It's a rare opportunity for education.

 

What I hope more, though, is that it does find its way through restoration, so that it can teach us even further through revealing it's fine details and beauty the maker intended.

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